5 Easy Meal Preps for When You Don’t Have the Time

Looking toward my first apartment, I was excited that I’d no longer face greasy, repetitive dining hall food, but I felt nervous I’d be incompetent in the kitchen and get downright bored with the few dishes I could prepare.

Over the past year, I’ve come up with a system of being active on Pinterest (as if that were a chore), deciding what I wanted to eat for my meals the following week, hitting up the grocery store, and then prepping my meals, putting them in Tupperware containers where I could take them to campus or transfer them easily to a plate to be heated up at home. Typically, I had two easy meals that could be prepared the day of (sandwiches for lunch, cereal or oatmeal for breakfast), but I prepped my dinners in advance. If you want some easy recipes that can prepped for you to eat throughout the week (and not get sick of throughout the week), here are a few suggestions:

1. Tomato, Onion, Cucumber and Feta Salads

These are a Pinterest lover’s dream. Not only are they gorgeous (they make regular appearances on my Snapchat stories), but if you’re a Feta fan, which I am, they’re super delicious. All you have to do is dice up some tomatoes, a red onion, a cucumber, and then throw in some feta and your prep is set. When you’re ready to eat it, add some balsamic dressing (or your personal preference), mix everything up, and enjoy!

 

2. Chili Like Mom Used to Make

If you buy a packet of chili seasoning, the chili recipe is right there on the back! You’ll need to brown a pound of ground beef (or ground turkey if you want to make it healthier!), a can of diced tomatoes, a can of kidney beans and then whatever chili toppings you desire! I like to eat mine with shredded cheddar cheese and a handful of tortilla chips. You can brown the meal and then combine everything on the stovetop, or I throw everything into my crockpot and let it sit while I’m in class. I don’t love reheated food, but this chili tastes great every night for me.  

 

3. Spaghetti Squash Meals

If you’ve never had a spaghetti squash, it gives you the appearance of spaghetti with the taste of a spoonful of vegetables (think zucchini and summer squashes). While a halved spaghetti squash takes up to an hour in the oven to be ready to eat, I halve two or three squashes and cook all 4-6 “boats” at once, and then I’m ready to prep 4-6 meals! I dig out the spaghetti strands when it’s done cooking, and then you can do whatever take on the meal you like, but I like to do spaghetti squash with goat cheese, sautéed spinach and bacon OR sometimes I add pasta sauce, cheese and a couple of meatballs for a healthier spaghetti dinner.

 

4. Turkey, Avocado and Mozzarella Pasta Salad

Now, this one is a little more indulgent because it’s a lot of carbs, but it’s so easy to prepare in advance and it’s delicious. I prepare a ton of penne pasta (you can go whole wheat or gluten free if you’re looking to make it healthier), then I cut up avocado, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and broccoli to throw in (and you can always add more veggies!). I also add thick pieces of turkey to add protein, and then I toss the salad in balsamic dressing and portion it out for numerous meals.

 

5. Caesar Salad Time

I should tell you I have a slight obsession with Caesar dressing. If you’re anything like me, prepping Caesar salads for a week sounds fabulous. If you want to make it healthier, grab some spring mix or spinach instead of romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, the dressing, croutons and any veggies you’d like to add (I like to add cucumbers and tomatoes). For protein, I sometimes do chicken, sometimes breaded chicken (I get Tyson’s and keep it in the freezer and will use the patties with different meals such as this one), and sometimes I do shrimp. You can prep the salads in advance, just leave the meat, the croutons and the dressing until you’re about to eat it so nothing gets soggy. And if you come home from class one night and just DO NOT want a salad, have wraps handy and you can wrap up your meal and do a nice chicken Caesar salad wrap that night instead.

 

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5